December 19, 2005
Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods (Hardcover) by Michael Wex
We don't want to kvetch (complain) too much at the latest demagogic diversionary tactic of the Republicans: claiming that liberals are conducting a war on Christmas.
When you have a glomp (cabbage head) masquerading as president, you have to create scapegoats. America's always embraced Christmas and other religious holidays, but the fundamentalist Republican right needs to stir up a tsimmes (commotion) in order to fan the flames of hatred among its base and make them feel like victims.
At the same time the Busheviks try to use the terrorists as the sheydim (devils) to keep people from demanding the resignation or impeachment of Bush for being a shlemiel (foolish person) and farblondjet (lost, wandering about without any idea where you are).
It all leaves those of us who celebrate American diversity, Constitutional liberties, and innovation wishing that the Busheviks zolst brenen on strakhovke (you should have a fire and be uninsured).
"Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods" is a fascinating, accessible romp through the history of Yiddish and an explanation of many of the Yiddish expressions that have become part of the American idiom. We love how the author, Michael Wex, elaborates on the meaning of the word oreman (a pauper), including referring to sex as dem oremans ayngemakhts (the poor man's jam).
Yiddish is only one example of how America has benefited from its growth as a nation of immigrants. Much to the dismay of anti-immigrant Republicans, progressives are always pointing out that Native Americans are the only non-immigrant population living in the United States.
Because so many Jews entered the entertainment and literary communities, Yiddish is part of American culture, as we are all, with our ancestors having such diverse cultural and national origins.
Making a political issue of whether or not someone says "Merry Christmas" is such a transparent ruse it qualifies as a bobbe-myseh (something patently silly and untrue).
Our founding fathers separated church and state for a reason: to prevent the likes of the religious fanatics of the Republican Party from coming to power -- and conducting anti-Constitutional propaganda through vehicles like the FOX News GOP propaganda network.
May the great cultural melting pot that is America triumph over these momzers (bastards).
There, now we are finished kvetching (complaining) and will get back to finish the endlessly entertaining and informative "Born to Kvetch."
(Our appreciation to Leo Rosten's "Joys of Yiddish" for some of the Yiddish definitions.)